Resident Canada Geese

Contact: Jonathan McKnight, Maryland Department of Natural Resources |

Resident Canada Geese
Photo: Chris Evans, The University of Georgia,

ANNAPOLIS, MD (October 17, 2005) – No sound is more evocative of autumn’s arrival for Marylanders than the honking of the migratory Canada geese that make their winter homes in our fields and rivers. Having spent the spring and summer breeding in the far north, the geese return each fall to their traditional wintering grounds in the relatively mild climate of the Chesapeake Tidewater.

Unfortunately, many Marylanders, especially those in urban and suburban settings, are seeing and hearing geese far too often – and all year long. A rapidly growing flock of resident Canada geese is inundating public parks and golf courses, leaving a landscape strewn with feathers and goose poop.

Contrary to common perception, these resident geese are not just lazy geese who decided that they needn’t bother to migrate north to breed. They are the descendants of pet geese once used as live decoys and released in the 1930’s when live decoy flocks were outlawed. Some may also be the descendants of geese brought from the Midwest to re-populate the Eastern Shore population. Canada geese like to return to where they were born to breed, so these geese simply settled in to stay within a limited area and are not inclined to take up migration.

Breeding waterfowl surveys in Maryland between 1989 and 1998 showed that the number of resident geese increased three-fold, from about 25,000 to 90,000. With this dramatic population increase have come frequent complaints that resident Canada geese are becoming a nuisance. Because of various management strategies by State, local and municipal authorities and private land managers, that number has been reduced to about 86,500 as of April 2005.

Resident Canada Geese

Communities have used an astounding variety of techniques to drive off unwanted resident geese, from the use of poisons to the installation of plastic alligators. There are a number of methods that have been shown to be effective including hunting, herding dogs, the use of visual scaring devices, sprinklers, and repellants.

Find out more about how to deal with unwanted resident Canada Geese at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Web Site:

For more information about other Invasive Species of Concern, visit the Maryland Invasive Species Council.